Sweet one in a difficult marriage, by now you should know that my heart bleeds for you. I remember with absolute clarity the loneliness, fear, and sadness that I carried around with me everywhere I went, that I only let drip out of me in the privacy of my own home, or in bits and pieces in a counselor’s office or on a friend’s couch.
My story is one of asking for help, quietly, for years, and not being understood fully. And then, years later, when I was barely hanging on, asking for help again, boldly, and finally getting it.
But in between not getting help and getting help, I was waiting to be rescued. I was begging God for help (and he was helping me, just not in the ways I had hoped or wanted at the time). And I was looking for someone to intuit what was really going on and step in and put a stop to the madness.
But no one did.
And so I have to tell you this, in case you are doing the same thing…waiting for someone to come save you: no one is coming. No one is coming to rescue you.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Once I was finally understood, years and years into the pain, I had a band of people who came around me who really listened to me and who completely believed me and who didn’t minimize my pain and who didn’t discount me and who truly got it and who deeply helped me more than I can ever understand or repay.
But no one came crashing into my home during all those in-between waiting-to-be-rescued years and said, “This must stop.” There was no knight. There was no white horse. There was no guy from church who I hoped would have caught my hints. I was on my own during those years.
And, you are too.
But don’t let that scare you. I know it can be debilitating to consider yourself your own hero, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. You are not your own hero; I am certainly not mine. But instead of being scared, let the knowledge that no one is coming stir you up to action.
You need to be your own advocate. No one knows the intricacies of your relationship like you do. No one knows your heart like you do. Catherine Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark in No Place for Abuse put it this way, “We must help women understand that they have the God-given right to make moral and spiritual decisions. Women must answer to God and not to their husband, their relatives or their faith community.”
II Timothy 1: 7 says that God promises that he has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but instead a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Do you believe that about yourself? (Despite what you may be hearing on a regular basis…) You, sweet one, are not to live in fear. You are not to make decisions based on timidity. If you know Christ personally, you have his resurrection power already in you. You have his love tucked away inside you. And you, no matter what you’ve been told, have the capacity to have a sound mind (and it will become even sounder as the lights come on regarding the possible abuse you’ve been experiencing).
So, if this is you…if you are in a difficult Christian marriage and there is addiction or abuse of any kind and you are just hoping beyond hope that one of these days someone will notice what’s going on in your family, odds are they won’t. (Not because people are mean, but because people are a, very focused on their own lives, as people tend to be, and b, not always aware of the signs of addiction or abuse, especially if you and your husband are playing the part of the perfect Christian family.) So this isn’t a time for blame.
But it is a time for determining that if you need something in your relationship to change – if you or your children are being physically or emotionally hurt on a regular basis, you are the one who is going to have to take that step. You will have to ask for help. You will have to be brave. You will have to say the words out loud, “I think my husband is an alcoholic,” or “I think my husband abuses me,” or “I’m going to AlAnon,” or “I’m starting counseling whether you come with me or not”. You are going to have to do this. And you – through Christ – can do this.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.